After starting the 2022 season with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, 20-year-old catcher Diego Cartaya continues his climb to the majors with a recent promotion to High-A Great Lakes.
Catcher is one of those interesting spots for the Dodgers because they’ve had one of the healthiest stocks of players after being so barren at the position for nearly a decade. Even after dealing Keibert Ruiz to the nationals in the Max Scherzer deal and Connor Wong to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade, Los Angeles is seemingly sitting pretty for the foreseeable future.
It’s rare that a catcher sits atop a team’s overall prospect rankings, but that’s just what Cartaya has done, at least according to MLB Pipeline.
When Cartaya signed for a $2.5 million bonus in July 2018, he was just 16 years old and ranked second on MLB.com’s International Top 30 list. At the time, there probably weren’t many fans who felt the youngster could climb to the top of the prospect rankings within three short years.
Cartaya began his endeavors in the Dodgers system back in 2019 by competing in the Dominican Summer League, but he arrived on United States soil just in time to provide a decent sample size in the 2019 Arizona Rookie League. There, he slashed .296/.353/.437 with three homers and 10 doubles over just 36 games. Additionally, he threw out nine of 36 would-be base-stealers, which was quite impressive considering he was competing against players well beyond his age group.
In his age 19 season last year, he slashed .298/.409/.614 with 10 homers and 31 RBI over 137 plate appearances in 31 games for Rancho after having been shutdown for the season in late July due to a moderate hamstring injury.
So far this season, Cartaya’s hitting .256/.402/.551 with 11 homers and 36 RBI over 40 games between Rancho and Great Lakes. He has already collected 27 walks this year, which is his career-high for a season. Since being promoted to Great Lakes on June 1, he has gone 6-for-25 with two doubles and two homers in his first seven games.
Obviously, High-A is a far cry from the majors, but it’s still intriguing to see how the organization handles its catching depth. Fortunately, both Will Smith and Austin Barnes have been healthy, forgoing the need to dip into the Triple-A reserve, even though there aren’t really any exciting choices.
A pair of 30-somethings in Tomas Telis and Tony Wolters have seen the bulk of the time so far this year at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Telis has been hitting extremely well, compiling a .310 average over his first 30 games. He has also thrown out nine out of 21 would-be base stealers.